Professor of Early Modern Cultural Studies, Catherine Richardson, is principal investigator on a collaborative project with researchers from King’s College London and the University of Birmingham who have developed a class calculator to explore the cultural and social world of the 16th and 17th Century England. The calculator will allow individuals to see where they would have sat on the social scale during Shakespeare’s era – the period of 1560 – 1660, and can be used as a research tool to identify the status of historic figures.
The Social Status Calculator, inspired by the 2013 BBC Great British Class Calculator, is an educational resource tool which breaks down what “middling” status would mean for those living during the 16th and 17th century England – the kinds of people who were neither very rich, nor very poor.
Professor Richardson shares, ‘We wanted to find a light-hearted way of exploring what life was like for the different status groups in early modern England – a lot of research into archives and museum collections lies behind it, but we hope it’s essentially great fun to use! It is one of the tools we are using to help us to think about the cultural lives of Shakespeare’s contemporaries in the round, and to investigate the impact of the relationships between wealth, possessions, occupation, skills and lifestyle – to deepen our understanding of how literacy and creative practices might have affected a family’s social mobility.’
The Social Status Calculator forms part of the Middling Culture research project, an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project that aims to transform our understanding of how reading, writing and material culture fitted into the everyday lives of England’s “middling” people during that important period in history.
Try out the Social Status Calculator online.